Interesting Facts about K-9 Officers
By Terri Reed, author of Protect and Serve
Research is an integral part of my storytelling. Especially when writing about something that is out of my realm of expertise. I could write coherently about gymnastics, as I was a gymnast for many years. I could write about modeling, both print and runway, which I did through my twenties. But writing realistic law enforcement officers? Beyond my experience.
It was with enthusiasm that I delved into the world of law enforcement when I began writing my suspense stories. I strive to make my suspenseful plots believable and my characters as realistic as possible.
And it was a great joy to learn about K-9 officers. I knew very little about this special type of policing. As part of my research I attended several classes taught by various police agencies. Learning about K-9 officers and their handlers was especially fascinating since I love dogs. All breeds, all sizes. I had the privilege of meeting several canines and their handlers, as well as learning some interesting facts.
- A canine has the ability to smell 100,000 times + stronger than a human.
- A properly trained police dog saves 600 to 1000 man-hours every year.
- K-9 officers reduce the risk to human officers by alerting to danger long before a human can detect it.
- A canine’s presence often prevents escalation of force.
- K-9 officers are a community-policing tool.
- K-9 handlers are more likely to be involved in a use-of-force incident than a regular deputy or patrol officer.
- K-9 officers may not know who the “bad guy” is, so it is important to cooperate with police if you encounter one.
- K-9 officers live with their handlers. This promotes a better bond, but they are not treated as a “pet.”
- Most K-9 officers come from Europe.
- Most come basic trained.
- There are several breeds of dogs that are used for K-9 work:
- German shepherd
- Doberman pinscher
- Labrador retriever
- Belgian Malinois
- There are many different jobs a K-9 officer is trained for, such as:
- Search and rescue—essential after a natural disaster or terrorist attack, police dogs are vital to finding survivors trapped under rubble. The faster you find survivors, the higher the chances are for survival.
- Trailing/tracking dogs—picking up a suspect’s scent and following the trail, or finding a missing person such as a child or elderly person.
- Cadaver dogs—finding human remains to help locate missing persons and solve cases, bringing closure and peace for families.
- Enforcing public order—dogs aiding in crowd control.
- Detection dogs—sniffing out explosives, illegal drugs and contraband.
- Arson dogs—used to pick up on traces of accelerants.
- A handler’s job is to stay focused on the dog and read the dog’s body language.
- Support law enforcement officers have the handler’s back.
- K-9 officers are trained to bite and hold, not to chew or release quickly.
- A K-9 handler’s vehicle is equipped with a special compartment for the canine to ride in. And it’s right next to the space for suspects, with a partition separating them. Very intimidating for the suspect.
For Protect and Serve, my heroine trains K-9 officers and their handlers, so the information I learned was invaluable and went a long way in making her a believable character. And she got to work with puppies, which was really fun. Who doesn’t love puppies?
I hope you’ll enjoy Protect and Serve, book one of the Rookie K-9 Unit continuity series.
About Protect and Serve:
When rookie K-9 officer Shane West and his German shepherd partner find the lead police dog trainer murdered, he’s determined to bring the killer to justice. But then he discovers Gina Perry hiding nearby—a pretty junior trainer who had the motive, means and opportunity to kill her boss. Gina insists her troubled brother is the real murderer…and this isn’t the first time he’s killed. And when Gina’s brother comes after her, Shane is assigned to protect her and uncover the truth. Suddenly, Shane—a cop who always hoped to join a big-city force—vows to stay by Gina’s side as a murderer lurks in the small-town shadows.